The Canadian federal Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy has recently been released. This will require Canadian universities and other research institutes to create and share strategic plans regarding data management and to equip their researchers with skills to complete data deposits. To help maximize the success of data sharing we outline five domains for research institutions to consider during implementation: training and education, paying for data sharing, audit and feedback, meta-science, and career advancement.
“Everybody’s knowledge, nobody’s property”1
Open science (OS) refers to making the scientific process (e.g., protocols, materials) and its outputs (e.g., reports of completed research, data, code) freely and transparently available to everybody. There have been valiant efforts to ensure easy access to COVID-19 research reports and the sharing of its underlying data. A Wellcome initiative to mandate a set of OS practices for COVID-19 research (Wellcome Trust 2020) was started early on in the pandemic and subsequently endorsed by hundreds of organizations. Despite these efforts, we have not seen meaningful change; many of the materials and outputs of COVID-19 studies remain inaccessible. An analysis of 535 COVID-19 articles on preprint servers found that “only 21% of authors included data availability statements, and only 11% of those made their data available in external repositories” (Sumner et al. 2020). None of the data underlying any of the COVID-19 vaccine trials is directly and easily available to the scientific community, patients, or the broader community (Baden et al. 2021). Only a handful of biomedical journals have strong data-sharing policies (Naudet et al. 2018) that prospective authors must agree to as part of the submission/acceptance process.
This is about to change in Canada. Canada’s Chief Science Advisor has established a “Roadmap to Open Science” that aims to create change and embed OS into all aspects of Canadian research culture (Canadian Federal Government 2021). A key component of Canada’s transition to OS will revolve around sharing research data. Canada’s federal Tri-Agencies have recently released their Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy (RDM Policy 2021). This policy will require action on behalf of institutions, mandate data management plans for grant applications, and includes a strong preference for data sharing. This analysis focuses on five topics to help implement data sharing successfully in Canada (see Table 1).